Geology educators oppose Tennessee's "monkey bills"


Adding to the chorus of disapproval of Tennessee's "monkey bills" — House Bill 368 and Senate Bill 893 — are the two leading associations of K-12 geology educators: the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the National Earth Science Teachers Association. The bills, if enacted, would encourage teachers to present the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of "controversial" topics such as "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."

The NAGT's statement (PDF), signed by its president Elizabeth Wright, emphasized that "the scientific theory of evolution should be taught to students of all grade levels as a unifying concept without distraction of non-scientific or anti-scientific influence" and reiterated the organization's acceptance of the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its commitment to "intensive public education, increased awareness, and action" on the issue of climate change.

The statement concludes, "We agree that critical thinking is an essential skill for all students, one which is already embedded in the teaching of science. But the content of science consists of peer-reviewed, tested and confirmed results, not debates based on political or religious convictions. We are convinced that rigorous science education in Tennessee is badly served by SB 893 or HB 368, and we urge Tennessee’s representatives, state senators and governor to reject this legislation."

The NESTA's statement (PDF), signed by its executive director Roberta Johnson, similarly affirmed "that evolution is central to biology and to the earth sciences and that it is an essential component of science classes" and "that Earth's climate is changing, that human activities are responsible for much of the warming seen in recent years, and [that] the science of climate change is a fundamental part of earth science education."

Consequently, it continues, "While scientific research continues to illuminate how evolution and climate change influence the world around us, there is no scientific debate about whether they do so, and these bills are wrong to suggest otherwise." The statement concludes by warning, "HB 368 and SB 893 would damage the scientific preparation of Tennessee’s students, harm Tennessee's national reputation, and weaken its efforts to participate in the 21st century economy."